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Is there a path for Oilers captain Connor McDavid to win the Conn Smythe trophy?

Edmonton Oilers Connor McDavid
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
29 days ago
Connor McDavid made history Saturday night becoming the record holder for most assists in a single playoff with 32, hurdling Wayne Gretzky in the process.
And now, McDavid has started to work his way into the conversation for the Conn Smythe Trophy, annually handed out to the most valuable player in the playoffs.
There are multiple paths for the Oilers captain to make it happen. In one sense of the terms, the easiest would be for the Oilers to win three more games and hoist Lord Stanley’s Mug. It would need his club to support him in doing so, as if they did win the series in seven games, they’d be the second team in history to overcome a 3-0 deficit in the finals, joining the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs in doing so.
Another way he could work himself into the conversation would be if he if had another incredible performance, or two, similar to how he did in Game 4, Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli said Monday on Daily Faceoff LIVE:
Seravalli: “If you get to Game 6, all of a sudden you start to get into the McDavid Conn Smythe territory, even potentially in a losing fashion. It also depends on how split the votes would be between Barkov and Bobrovsky. I feel like that part kind of cracked open with Bobrovsky getting pulled. Nonetheless, and we had this exact conversation on the Rundown, you would agree with me through that McDavid wasn’t in the first or second spot in terms of being the Oilers MVP through the first three rounds.
Yaremchuk: “I would also argue that the gap between what you’ve gotten from McDavid and what you’ve gotten from Bouchard and Draisaitl, who would’ve been one and two, it’s been pretty significant in this Stanley Cup Final.”
All things considered, it was a quiet first three games of the Stanley Cup Finals for McDavid playing on the biggest stage of his career.
Held off the score sheet in Game 1, he still fired six shots on goal in a game, generating 0.8 individual expected goals, according to Natural Stat Trick, the most of any player that night.
The Oilers had no business in Game 2, and McDavid fired three shots, generating .22 ixG, second among his teammates to Leon Draisaitl. A tight Game 3 saw McDavid continue to buzz, with two assists and five shots on goal, accumulating .75 ixG, the most among Oilers.
And then there was Game 4, arguably the biggest game of McDavid’s career considering the stakes: an elimination game in the Stanley Cup Finals, as Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch said.
It took some time for McDavid to arrive in the game, not contributing much until he got onto the score sheet until he beat Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky 1:13 into the second period. From that point on, he took over the rest of the game, notching assists on the next three Oilers goals  — two primary and one secondary — as he hurdled past Wayne Gretzky.
If the Oilers were to lose in the finals and McDavid was to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, he would become the second s non-goaltender in history to have that happen. The only other skater to do so was Reggie Leach in 1976, a year in which he set the NHL record for most goals in a single playoff, scoring 19 goals in 16 games.
Leach racked up nine goals in five games in the quarter-finals against the Bruins, including a five-goal performance in the series winning Game 5. In the finals, Leach scored four goals in four games, despite his Philadelphia Flyers getting swept in four games by the Montreal Canadiens.
Four goaltenders have done so in the past: Roger Crozier (1966, Detroit Red Wings), Glen Hall (1968, St. Louis Blues), Ron Hextall (1987, Flyers) and Jean-Sebastian Gigure (2003, Mighty Ducks of Anaheim).
As of the time of writing Monday morning, McDavid’s odds to do so were +750, according to Bet365, giving him an implied probability of 11.76 percent.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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